The Venerable Yamaka (Samyutta-Nikaya XXII, 85) misunderstood the Buddha’s teaching insofar as he believed that after removing the defilements or âsavo, in the case of an Arhat, there is nothing beyond the body after its death (in essence, this is the teaching of annihilationism). Yamaka said:
As I understand the Dhamma taught by the Blessed One, a bhikkhus whose taints [âsavo] are destroyed is annihilated and perishes with the breakup of the body and does not exist after death.
This is like believing that when a whirlpool, which is always in flux; ever changing and impermanent, ceases, there is nothing more. But in fact there is water when the whirlpool ceases. When we realize that the essence of reality is not a phenomenon nor is not totally separate from phenomena, since it is constructive, in the example of the Five Aggregates, the essence is not annihilated. We can call this essence pure Mind, or tathatâ, or the Tathagata meaning gone to thatness.
As regards our psychophysical body (the Five Aggregates) we learn to disengage with it, that is, free ourselves from it intoxicating (âsavo) power; not regarding it as our self or âtman, that is to say, not clinging to it. The lessening of engagement with the psychophysical body also makes it much easier to see the true essence of reality.